Bill and Debbie Rudisill had the grandchildren on their minds when they started talking about building a house at the beach. The perfect piece of oceanfront property at the exact location the Rudisills had envisioned popped up, and in collaboration with Stone-Montgomery Construction and Gathered, the Rudisills brought back the classic, iconic Wrightsville Beach beach house. This custom-built home-away-from-home is designed for three generations to enjoy.
“If you build it, they will come” is the famous line from the 1989 film, Field of Dreams and is an apt description for the motivation behind Bill and Debbie Rudisill’s decision to construct a vacation home at Wrightsville Beach.
The Rudisills have five grandchildren, all of whom currently live out of town. The beach house gives the grandkids — and their parents — extra incentive to visit.
“Debbie grew up on the beach,” Bill Rudisill says. “That’s something I’ve sort of always hoped we could do. Our children live out of town, so this house creates a reason for them to come back to Wilmington. We are looking forward to many, many years of fun with them coming home.”
Debbie Rudisill was one of seven granddaughters who enjoyed summer days at Wrightsville Beach back in the 1950s on her grandparents’ front porch.
“The house was right across from the Little Chapel on the Boardwalk. I remember when it rained we would sit out there on the porch on a couch, all seven of us. We could judge what kind of car was coming down the street by the sound of the engine and whoever could say it first would win that round,” Debbie laughs.
Today, there are a lot more cars, a lot more houses and new construction is peppering in more and more modern designs at Wrightsville Beach. The Rudisills didn’t want to lose sight of their roots.
“They just really wanted that classic Wrightsville Beach beach house, but they are also young spirited,” says Lindsey Cheek, owner and principal designer at Gathered, a Wilmington design firm.
Cheek, who had worked with the Rudisills before, collaborated with Stone-Montgomery Construction from the inception to bring timeless style to the strand. The home on South Lumina Avenue, completed in July 2020, beautifully pairs stained cedar shakes with crisp white trim and windows and, of course, a wraparound porch.
“They have said ‘I can’t wait to paint and read books and do puzzles with my grandchildren on the porch’,” Cheek says. “We wanted to make the home low-maintenance and kid-friendly. They’ve got a really active family and we wanted to make it comfortable.”
A commercial-grade storm drainage system sits beneath the house, five feet under the driveway and nearly 30 feet wide.
“It’s neat as heck,” says Robert Montgomery of Stone-Montgomery Construction. “You put these crates down, they almost look like milk crates, but they’re not. They are covered with dirt and then rock and when you are all done, your drainage from the downspouts all drain into this system and the water just goes through like nobody’s business.”
Wrightsville Beach building codes have become increasingly strict throughout the years to ensure safety. Stone-Montgomery takes it multiple steps further for a solid-as-a-rock home at the beach.
“We don’t take shortcuts; that’s just how we work,” Montgomery says.
OUT OF THE BLUE
Inspiration for the design concept began with a Chip Hemingway painting of Bradley Creek, where the Rudisills have their year-round home. The painting, now hung above the fireplace of the beach house, boasts a coastal palette.
The Gathered team was given the green light to have some fun with the interior design — as long as Carolina blue hues took center stage. The Rudisills are University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alums.
“Bill was here one day, and he had on a pale blue shirt,” Cheek says. “Pointing to it he said, ‘I like this blue.’”
Gathered used beachy blues, sandy tones and sea glass greens interspersed through unique tile, textiles and wallpaper. To give the Rudisills a new home with an old beach cottage feel, Gathered and Stone-Montgomery opted for five-inch white oak flooring and millwork details on the walls and ceilings to bring in that charm.
“The results create a warm feeling in a new home,” Cheek says. “There’s millwork all over the house, tongue-and-groove on the walls and ceiling, and if there’s sheetrock then there’s wallpaper.”
The kitchen overlooking Wrightsville Beach has a multi-toned sky-blue subway tile backsplash that’s brought up to the ceiling. Blue and white patterned curtains reflect traditional design, and polished nickel hardware and fixtures mix in contemporary touches.
SURF AND SEA
What began as two small bathrooms was reconfigured into a shared Jack-and-Jill bathroom for the grandsons — “my favorite,” Cheek says.
Surfboard wallpaper and royal blue subway tile cover the walls. The floor tile is a play on a classic penny tile and leads to the bunk room that sleeps four.
For the granddaughters’ room, a wallpapered ceiling, a chandelier that looks like seaweed, and twin bed headboards shaped like waves makes one feel as if they’ve arrived under the sea.
“I hope they are as excited as their granddaddy is,” Bill says as he takes a look.
Shells affixed to the sconces and penny tile that looks like sand provide subtle evocations of the beach.
The master bedroom and bathroom suite overlook the ocean. The bedroom ceiling was designed for a Bahamian feel, along with textured wallpaper and windows to maximize views. There are three suites in all, each with its own design.
The Rudisills’ plan to bring family home is already working. Their daughter’s family is moving back to Wilmington and their son’s family is planning to visit often.
“This house will be theirs one day when we are gone,” Bill says. “When you grow up here, it’s just in your blood.”